Valentine’s Day: Away from B.S. and Back to Basics

Love is the reason for everything.
— Aimee, Collateral Beauty

Guys, I have been seriously struggling with what the heck to post for Valentine’s Day and it makes no sense at all. I am the biggest romantic of all time. Truth. Trust me. I love hearts and bubbles and butterflies and rainbows and moon beams and all things pretty. For all intents and purposes, Valentine’s Day should be my holiday. Toward the end of last year, before shit got real and I had to put pen to paper, I timed the Life and Lovely Things re-introduction to the public for Valentine’s Day. Seemed like a perfect time given the obvious synergies between the brand and the holiday. And yet here I am…without the words I thought I would have.

Blank screen by rawpixel

Blank screen by rawpixel

So here are the words I do have. Turns out, universal Love Day has slowly but surely crept into company with other once magical, now sad holidays that require obligatory actions and provide little meaning in return. It began with the legend of St. Valentine marrying soldiers in defiance of the head of state who thought married soldiers were bad for war. Said St. V was thrown in jail, where he fell in love with the daughter of the jailer, writing her a love letter signed “from your Valentine.” Doesn’t that make you just want to swoon? Here we are nearly two thousand years later, buying high-fructose corn syrup-laden chocolate and cheesy cards. How did we get here?

Wine glasses and bouquet of roses by rawpixel

Wine glasses and bouquet of roses by rawpixel

If you buy into the hype, one of two scenarios generally happens on Valentine’s Day. Scenario One. You and your mate are love-struck. You go out all the time. You do things together. You don’t have crumb snatchers or if you do, you have magically managed to keep your relationship a priority and tend to it as such. V-Day ensues and you – get this – go out, do something together. Well, yeah, but you do that anyway because you’re love-struck, remember? You two follow the prescribed list of stale to-do’s put forth by the powers that be but you secretly wonder why you’re doing it. We don’t need these things to share our love. Nothing about them is special, you think.

Scenario Two: You and significant other are not exactly connected. Significant other buys obligatory flowers, a card, and chocolate. You then act surprised when you get said flowers, card, and chocolate. The two of you go out on a date and you mentally prepare yourself to have sex afterward. The stupid thing is that you actually love significant other but rather than use V-Day to try to connect with him authentically, you follow the same prescribed list of stale to-do’s, which produces a stale result.

I’ve been tethered, at one point or another, to both situations. In either case, I found the forced romance thing to be just damnit dumb. I thought about mentally torching the tradition in its entirety but I am sentimental, after all, and unable to part with any of my holidays. Better minds prevailed and instead, I added it to my chart. What is my chart, you ask? I’d love to share! I created a Powerpoint chart (because what else would a neurotic ex-corporate marketer use) of holidays, what they mean to me at their core, and how I can revamp them to make them more authentic. Like many other things in my life, I’ve taken to basically blowing up my holidays, keeping the good bits, tossing the rest, and adding some stuff to make them more meaningful to ME.

Let me know what you think of this. What if V-Day was less about romance and more about DEEP appreciation. Romance, after all, is more of an effect of the appreciation and admiration we have for another person to which we also happen to be attracted. It’s more of a symptom, a by-product, and therefore it can’t really be manufactured in isolation.

With this slight mental shift, I started to get really excited. I started thinking about all the things I truly appreciate and not just about my mister but about my children, my extended family, myself, and my work. I came across a note I had written to my family some time ago, shortly after the birth of my premature daughter. I read it, I cried, I sent it and I savored every response. I started to think about some of the ways I could combine the things I appreciated. Love of beautiful children meets love of beautiful food and a beautiful V-Day breakfast idea complete with heart-shaped pancakes, sparkling cider flutes, and rose petals was born. (See my lovely list of V-day activities for more and I’ll let you know how it turns out.) I took some time to appreciate my husband – his quirks and qualities - and realized the mad dash to Walgreen’s for a hallmark card isn’t necessary. We’re all good. French fries, drinks at a bar, and simply enjoying each other’s company in the great metropolis of Dayton, Ohio is just perfect (grandma lives in Dayton…when you have tiny beans, you take what you can get).

Yes, deep appreciation. That’s what this holiday means to me going forward. Valentine’s Day provides an opportunity to stop and appreciate. Appreciate until tears fall. Appreciate until your heart cracks open. Appreciate until all you see is love – real, genuine, authentic love. I want that for you and I want that for me.

life-and-lovely-things-split-heart.jpg

Love in all things,

April Eileen

P.S. Don’t forget to check out our other V-day posts - What’s Lovely on Valentine’s Day and February’s Quotes from the Classics - for more love!